I want to begin my discussion of Chapter 1 of “Mama Bear Apologetics” with a bit of my story. I first got into “apologetics” in late high school and early college. Though I believed God’s Word to be true, I had always struggled with whether the Biblical Creation story was accurate, or whether Darwinian evolution had some merit. I had kind of made peace with the idea that perhaps God had used evolution to guide “creation” millions of years before bringing Adam and Eve into the scene. Then I saw a series of videos by a young earth Creationist that explained the weaknesses of Darwinism, and I began to read more. And more. And soon, I was reading not only books not only defending the Creation story, but also about the historical reliability of Scripture, the truth of the Resurrection, and the prophetic and archaeological evidence for Christianity. I became a virtual apologetics database.
As time went on, my study of apologetics slowed as my free time lessened. But though I’m not reading all the newest books, I still see this subject as incredibly important. In fact, it is even more important now than it was twenty years ago. Why? Because of my kids.
There was a time when whether you were a born again believer or not, people generally assumed that the claims of Scripture were more or less true. Americans had a Christian worldview, meaning that the moral teachings and principles of the Christian faith were interwoven into society. It served as the basis of our laws, courts, economy, and family structure. The Church was central to society. Most people went to church, and those who didn’t knew they probably should. All that has changed over the last few decades. Fewer and fewer people attend church, believe God’s Word to be true, or even know what the Bible says. The trustworthiness of Scripture is no longer assumed in our culture.
As parents, we may take our kids to Church. We may read the Bible to them, teach them to pray and about God’s love for them. These are things that Christian families have done for centuries. As parents, we hope and pray this will all stick with our kids, that they will make their faith their own and build their lives on the foundation we have tried to give them. But today, more than ever, our kids have to navigate through a world where what they learn in school, what is on TV, social media, and spoken of by their peers is contrary to what we are teaching them. Our struggle is not only to help them understand what the Bible teaches, but WHY it is true. As Chapter 1 in “Mama Bear Apologetics” says, “Apologetics may not seem important until you witness firsthand the consequences of bad ideas.” And the truth is, the consequences of bad ideas are often kids leaving the church.
Chapter 1 in the book refers to the “Youth Exodus”. The majority of teens leave the Church after high school. Some of them eventually come back, but most don’t. This isn’t necessarily new. As I think back to the people I was in youth group with in high school, many of them aren’t in church today. There are several reasons I believe teens leave the church, but one of the biggest reasons is that for many of them, they were never really convinced that the Bible is true, and that Jesus should be the cornerstone of their lives. In short, they never really answered the question, “Why is Jesus important to me?” And as they are exposed to new ideas in “the world”, they aren’t able to discern WHY the Bible is true, and the competing ideas aren’t.
According to Chapter 1, one of the reasons kids may struggle the connect the dots may be the way we teach the Bible when they are children. Studies are showing that although kids may not leave the church until after high school, they begin to “check out” mentally by fifth or sixth grade. Why? Because they have learned to see the Bible as a story, much like the fiction books they read in school or the cartoons they watch on Netflix. They haven’t learned that the stories we tell them actually happened or what they really need to learn from it. They may know that David killed Goliath, but they don’t know that it means they can trust God to be with them during the math test, or that God will give their family the strength to deal with grandma’s cancer. They may know that Noah built an ark, but if they don’t know that the story actually happened, the real lessons may be lost on them, such as that God is a God of love but also of judgment, and that choosing to follow the crowd can have devastating consequences. It isn’t enough that our kids hear the Gospel message. They need to know that it is true- historically, authentically, and morally true.
As a pastor involved in children’s ministry, this realization terrifies me. And it has me considering not only what I teach, but HOW I teach it. It is one reason I am a fan of the videos we use on Wednesday nights, as they focus on the application of the story and not just the story itself. But I am trying to think through how to inject some “apologetics” into our lesson times as well.
There is much more I could go over from Chapter 1, but I want to keep these emails somewhat brief. Perhaps the one takeaway I would leave you with is this. Maybe as parents we could start by making sure our children know how the Bible is different from other books. Do they see it as just a story, or as genuine Truth? And it may be an opportunity for you to explain how God’s Word has proven true in your life, how it has given you strength and encouragement. Mom and dad, there are a lot of books you can read on apologetics, from a lot of great authors. But your testimony will make a bigger difference to your kids than anything by Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. They will see God as real in their life when they see God as real in yours.
God bless your week,